State of Washington v. Consumer Digital Services (June 8, 2007, King Cty. Super. Ct.) (complaint).
Factual Background Edit
In June 2007 the State of Washington filed suit against the operators of several websites — including privasafe.com and surfsafe.com — that offered “free” gift cards, flat-screen monitors, and other products to consumers through pop-up ads, banner ads, and e-mail. They persuaded consumers into divulging personal information that the site operators then sold to third parties and used to bill consumers for unwanted services.
More than 13,000 Washington consumers submitted personal information in order to obtain the products, but only one consumer actually received a free item. All consumers who submitted information were subsequently charged $14.95 on their monthly phone bills for Internet-related services they did not want. Over 50 percent asked for refunds once they discovered the charges on their phone bills, only 5 percent ever made use of the service.
The settlement requires the site operators to refund payments to affected consumers and to pay other penalties and fees.